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UK as Intellectual Impostures, is a book by physicists Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont. English editions paper revised for greater relevance to debates in the English-speaking world. In particular to «deconstruct» the notion that some scientific and writers are difficult because they deal with profound and difficult ideas. Sokal and Bricmont claim that they do not intend to analyze postmodernist thought in general. Rather, they aim to draw attention to the abuse of concepts from mathematics and physics, subjects they’ve devoted their careers to studying and teaching. Using scientific critique pseudoscientific terminology without bothering much about what these words mean.
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Importing concepts from the natural sciences into the humanities without the slightest justification, and without providing any rationale for their use. Displaying superficial erudition by shamelessly throwing around technical terms where they are irrelevant, presumably to impress and intimidate the non-specialist reader. Manipulating words and phrases that are, in fact, meaningless. Self-assurance on topics far beyond the competence of the author and exploiting the prestige of science to give discourses a veneer of rigor.
The book gives a chapter to each of the above-mentioned authors, «the tip of the iceberg» of a group of intellectual practices that can be described as «mystification, deliberately obscure language, confused thinking and the misuse of scientific concepts. Sokal and Bricmont highlight the rising tide of what they call cognitive relativism, the belief that there are no objective truths but only local beliefs. Several scientists have expressed similar sentiments. Richard Dawkins, in a review of this book, said regarding the discussion of Lacan: «We do not need the mathematical expertise of Sokal and Bricmont to assure us that the author of this stuff is a fake. Perhaps he is genuine when he speaks of non-scientific subjects? Noam Chomsky called the book «very important» and said that «a lot of the so-called ‘left’ criticism seems to be pure nonsense». The book has been criticized by post-modern philosophers and by scholars with some interest in continental philosophy.
Bruce Fink offers a critique in his book Lacan to the Letter, where he accuses Sokal and Bricmont of demanding that «serious writing» do nothing other than «convey clear meanings». 1,» and that the latter «is not the erectile organ. However, with regard to the second sense, which Plotnisky describes by stating that «all imaginary and complex numbers are, by definition, irrational,» mathematicians agree with Sokal and Bricmont in not taking complex numbers as irrational. A Physicist Experiments With Cultural Studies». Probably no one concerned with postmodernism has remained unaware of it. Some are delighted, some are enraged. One friend of mine told me that Sokal’s article came up in a meeting of a left reading group that he belongs to.
The Sokal Hoax: At Whom Are We Laughing? Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Two Millennia of Mathematics: From Archimedes to Gauss. Jump to navigation Jump to search «Experimental» redirects here. For the musical classification, see Experimental music.
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